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Damon Lindelof Leads “Twin Peaks” Panel At Comic Con 2017

By: Marjorie Galas

Sporting a graphic t-shirt that read “Damn Fine Coffee”, Damon Lindelof kicked off Showtime’s “Twin Peaks: The Return” panel at Comic Con by recalling his introduction to the series in 1990.  The writer/producer/creator behind numerous films and TV series including “Lost” and “The Leftovers” was a 16-year-old “geeky misfit” who found solace in the insular world created by David Lynch and Mark Frost.  He felt at home drifting into the stories that unfolded in the small, wooded Washington town of Twin Peaks; populated by coffee-drinking FBI agents, mysterious giants, log ladies and teens skirting with some seriously evil dudes.

“I loved this place, they were all weirdos,” said Lindelof.  “This show as outside of the box.  It inspired everyone.  There would be no ‘Sopranos,’ no ‘X-Files’, no ‘Fargo’ and certainly no ‘Lost’ without it.”

Joining Lindelof were cast members Kyle MacLachlan (Dale Cooper/Dougie Jones), Naomi Watts (Janey E. Jones), Matthew Lillard (William Hastings), Everett McGill (Big Ed Hurley), Tim Roth (Gary “Hutch” Hutchens), James Marshall (James Hurley), Dana Ashbrook (Deputy Bobby Briggs), Don Murray (Bushnell Mullins) and Kimmy Robertson (Lucy Brennan).  David Lynch, unable to attend in person, sent the perfect non-greeting video: facing a camera in a vacant studio, Lynch was interrupted by events including a man jumping out a window, a rant about the last golf ball O.J. Simpson played with and a horse galloping over his cat.

Like many, Lindelof wondered if Lynch had anticipated brining the series back from the start.  MacLachlan said he felt it was the end when they concluded the first series.  A friend of Lynch’s, the actor occasionally asked Lynch if he would ever consider revisiting the story of Dale Cooper, and received non-committal answers from the director.  One day he received a cryptic call from Lynch saying “I need to speak with you,” which resulted in the two men meeting for coffee.

“He told me he had found his way back, and asked if I was up for the journey,” said MacLachlan.  “I told him that I never left ‘Twin Peaks.’”

The other returning actors recounted their surprise at receiving a request to reprise their roles.  Ashbrook was heading to a “Twin Peaks” convention in the UK when Lynch reached him, and he quickly agreed.  Robertson stated she began the call on top of her bed and managed to unknowingly roll directly under the bed through the course of her excitement.  Lynch had an old number to the country home of McGill, who now only uses the property to warehouse his collection of vintage cars.  McGill explained the phone has no answering machine and is basically an emergency resource for his bi-annual visits to the property.  Luckily, he was standing by the old rotary appliance when Lynch reached out to him.

“I hadn’t spoken with him in twenty years.  I told him, you just let me know when it is time to show up,” said McGill.

Lindelof was also very eager to learn what it was like for the actors who were introducing new characters to the world of “Twin Peaks.”  Like MacLachlan, Watts had maintained a friendship with Lynch after initially working with him on “Mulholland Drive.”  Invited to the director’s home periodically, she’d drop hints that it was once again time to work together.  When Lynch approached her about “Twin Peaks” the two sat together for an hour answering questions about the part.  She ultimately was only given pages of the script that outlined scenes with “Dougie.”

Roth confided that although he was a big fan of Lynch’s movies, such as “Eraserhead” and “Blue Velvet” he never watched the series.  “I was too busy with the Quinten things,” said Roth, referring to Tarantino’s early films, including 1992’s “Reservoir Dogs.”  Murray confessed he never met with Lynch.  He was simply sent the lines for his scenes – which included four pages of his dialogue, interrupted once or twice by the character “Dougie” who would only say one or two words as a time.

Like Roth, Lillard also had not seen the original but was familiar with Lynch’s films.  He was very aware of the director’s affinity for displaying physically-wrenching crying scenes (filled with tears, snot and scrunched up faces) and worked to mentally prepare for his character’s on-screen breakdown in episode ten.  Lynch prefers to capture the action in as few takes as possible, so nailing the emotion early one was crucial.

“It was intimidating,” said Lillard.  “You only get two takes, so you want to be really good really fast.”

The actors agreed the limited takes pose no problem.  As Murray pointed out, everyone on set is motivated and inspired by Lynch.  “There is no difference between actors and technicians, we are all just moved to make this for him,” said Murray.  While Lynch creates a joyful set and experience, he is quite strict about certain approaches.  For example, no improve is allowed.  When one actor ad libbed a line, Lynch reportedly stopped the camera and asked the actor if he “needed to be reported to the principle’s office.”

Lindelof asked the actors to share their interpretation of world displayed in the return to “Twin Peaks” and their character’s place in it.  They revealed that they all received only those sections of the script that contained their lines.  MacLachlan, who is in the bulk of the production, also had not clear vision, noting much of the story gets modified and solidified in the editing room.   Several of the cast members were waiting for the finale, so they could binge the series.  Roth indicated he intended to make “Twin Peaks” watching a family activity, starting with the original then concluding with the return.  Lillard threw the question back to Lindelof.

“It’s filled with such lovely people, but it is so weird!” declared Lillard.  “Does anyone know what it means?”